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Bush Praises Iraq's New Leader;

President Bush talked today about his meetings in Baghdad with the new Iraqi government, in which he encouraged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to seize the opportunity to stabilize his country.

Fresh from his surprise visit to the Iraqi capital, the president held a previously unannounced news conference in the White House Rose Garden.

Recognizing that there are those who have doubts about Maliki's government, President Bush said he had been able to size up the Iraq, leader and his Cabinet officials on the trip. "That's why I went," the president said. "I've eliminated that uncertainty. I was able to sit with the man and talk to him I was also pleased to meet with his cabinet."

But not all of the questions were about Iraq this morning. The president was also asked about his top aide Karl Rove, and the three-year CIA leak investigation. Rove learned Tuesday that he would not face criminal charges in the case. But it is known that in 2003, Rove spoke to journalists about the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame.

President Bush was asked if he approved of Rove's conduct. But he spoke instead of the prosecutor's decision. "I, obviously, along with others in the White House, took a sigh of relief when he made the decision he made," the president said.

The President rebuffed an attempt at a follow up question on Rove, noting that legal proceedings in the CIA leak case are still under way. He was referring to the upcoming trial of another senior White House aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was indicted by the special prosecutor.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Don Gonyea
You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.